Note: The contents of this story are graphic and may be disturbing to some readers.
A dead former B.C. Roman Catholic bishop convicted in 1997 of rape and indecent assault against residential school students has again been named in new allegations of sexual assault.
The now-dead Bishop Hubert O'Connor is one of three priests named in the lawsuit.
In 1997, O'Connor was convicted of rape and indecent assault of female students at schools. He was later acquitted of indecent assault in a 1999 appeal and a new trial was ordered for the rape charge but the Crown decided not to pursue the case after O’Connor apologized.
Now, Ronald Wayne Petruk, 76, has filed suit against The Roman Catholic Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Vancouver, a Corporation Sole and the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
In the suit, Petruk describes multiple assaults by three named and other priests, one in a church at Easter. He alleges he was forced to watch priests having sex with each other.
The suit said the priests “misrepresented the sexual assaults and battery as acceptable to God, as part of the plaintiff’s education, and as consistent with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, intending to persuade the plaintiff to submit to the sexual assaults and battery.”
The notice of civil claim, filed in B.C. Supreme Court June 18, said Petruk was given up for adoption and placed in foster homes. At age five, he was placed with a couple called Macdonald where he was raised as a Catholic.
He said Oblate Father Allan MacInnes was a brother of Mrs. Macdonald and would pay frequent visits with other Oblates during which a lot of alcohol was consumed.
When Petruk was about 13, the claim said, Father MacInnes twice took him into a room and began rubbing the front of his legs.
Shortly after, Father MacInnes told Petruk he had to teach him about sex and took him again to the room. O’Connor joined them.
The claim said Father MacInnes pulled down the child’s pants and the priests remarked on the fact he was not circumcised. Father MacInnes allegedly then undid his own pants to show his penis was different from the teen’s after which he began rubbing the youth’s penis.
O’Connor then grabbed the teen from behind and both men began rubbing themselves against him. Then, Father MacInnes tried to bend the child onto his penis after which O’Connor penetrated the child anally.
“The pain made the plaintiff scream and fight harder to get away,” the claim said. “Eventually, the plaintiff broke away and ran and hid under his bed in the basement.”
The claim said that Father MacInnes would grab Petruk on subsequent visits telling him he would have to return to the room sooner or later.
The suit further said other priests whose names are unknown groomed him for further sexual assaults. Such incidents included him watching priests have sex.
When he was about 14 or 15 while serving as an altar boy, Petruk alleges a Father Roberts forced him to made to drink unconsecrated communion wine before an Easter service and then have anal sex in the church sacristy.
“The plaintiff was crying and screaming and feared for his life,” the suit said.
The claim said when Petruk told Mr. Macdonald he had been sexually assaulted by Roberts, the foster father told him a priest would do no such thing, that he was a liar and then kicked him in the groin with steel-toed boots, rupturing a testicle.
Spokesperson Makani Marquis said the Vancouver archdiocese cannot comment on the claims as the matter is before the court.
However, current Archbishop Michael Miller has apologized to survivors of such abuse.
“For those occasions when we failed to protect you or when we were more concerned with the church’s reputation than with your suffering, I am truly sorry and ask for your forgiveness as I strive to make amends and bind your wounds,” he said in a 2019 report.
Other such cases continue through the court system.
O'Connor didn’t admit to the allegations of rape in the residential schools but he did admit to breaking his vow of chastity.
"I have and will continue to do my penance until I die, both in the community and before God," O'Connor said in his apology.
O'Connor served as bishop of Whitehorse from 1971 to 1986 and bishop of Prince George from 1986 to 1991. He died in 2007.
Other cases have been filed against O’Connor since his death.
One in Yukon included defendants such as the Catholic Episcopal Corporation of Whitehorse, Les Oblats de Marie Immaculée du Manitoba and OMI Lacombe Canada Inc.
Such a filing where a person accused of actions but unable to answer them due to death or infirmity is not unusual.
In 2020, B.C. Supreme Court ordered the Kamloops Roman Catholic Diocese will pay a priest’s sexual abuse victim $844,140 in damages.
Rosemary Anderson alleged in a December 22, 2016, notice of civil claim that sexual abuse at the hands of Erlindo Molon, now 88, started when she was 26. She named Molon and the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Kamloops, A Corporation Sole, in the claim.
Justice David Crossin’s decision said Molon, who was about 20 years Anderson’s senior, began a sexual relationship with her that was born of a betrayal of trust and perpetuated by an abuse of power.
Molon, however, was in a care home in Ontario and could not answer to the suit.
Former Archbishop of Vancouver Adam Exner was bishop in Kamloops at the time of those events and testified in the case.
At the time of the staying of the rape charges, Exner was Vancouver’s archbishop. He said he regretted the suffering caused by O’Connor, that the case would be reviewed and O’Connor’s future decided by the pope – then John Paul II.